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Industry

Outdoor Retailer Carry Awards :: Summer Market 2016

by , August 13, 2016

Carryology gives out three awards for each year at Outdoor Retailer. Unlike the big media publications, our vibe (and budget) is decidedly smaller but we work with what we've got. This year, we are particularly proud of our trophies, custom outfitted with backpacks. Last year, we had pretty long debates and discussions went back and forth as to which brands deserved awards. This year, the decisions were made in about five minutes. All team members were on the same page and it was a thing of beauty. This year's winners truly impressed all of us and they did it with authority.

Rising Star - Heimplanet

I had just wrapped up a 30-minute conversation with Stefan Clauss at the Heimplanet booth on the final day of the show. Two days prior, Carryology co-founder Andy Fallshaw had mentioned that he stopped by their booth, unannounced, and walked away truly impressed with their work. He said, and I agree, that it feels like Heimplanet had a new designer. I asked Clauss this and reiterated that I too thought that their new Minimal and Motion lines felt entirely different and refreshing. He assured me that he and the other designers were the same as last year's, but like any new brand, they are growing in their skills and are learning day by day what good design is and about the products people want.

Outdoor Retailer Carry Awards Heimplanet

As a brand that tries to be a little bit punk (see their inflatable tents for example), Heimplanet is rapidly coming into its own. Their Spring '17 offerings are clean and elegant but hide really elegant features that only appear when you need them. I am particularly fond of a purple and gray colorway they have in their Motion series, so much so that I was tempted to sneak it off the rack with me.

"As a brand that tries to be a little bit punk (see their inflatable tents for example), Heimplanet is rapidly coming into its own. Their Spring '17 offerings are clean and elegant but hide really elegant features that only appear when you need them."

This is Heimplanet's first time at Outdoor Retailer and no freshman is as worthy as them for the Rising Star Award.

Outdoor Retailer Carry Awards Heimplanet

Best Innovation - Arc'teryx

Two years in a row, walking up to the Arc'teryx booth has given me butterflies. One of the biggest brands in the outdoor industry, their booth anchors one end of the exhibition hall. Talk about menacing, both in stature and reputation. This year, we knew it was something big when we walked up to their booth and they only wanted to show us one thing. Sure, they had two or three other rooms full of gear including a line of great-looking footwear, but they kept us focused on the new Bora AR.

Outdoor Retailer Carry Awards Arc'teryx

The story was the suspension that they were able to make act like a mechanical suspension. That is, the pack rides on rails and the pack literally lifts up and down, articulating from the hip and shoulders. We tried on a loaded pack, and walked up and down steel stairs. The best way I could describe it is it felt like you had an exoskeleton on. Or, at least how I would imagine having a mech suit on would feel like. When one of the designers took the hip belt apart and explained the details of the innovation that went into tiny bits of hardware that made up the RotoGlide hip belt, our jaws dropped.

"...the pack rides on rails and the pack literally lifts up and down, articulating from the hip and shoulders. We tried on a loaded pack, and walked up and down steel stairs. The best way I could describe it is it felt like you had an exoskeleton on."

Outdoor Retailer Carry Awards Arc'teryx

For their relentless pursuit of the perfect suspension, we awarded Arc'teryx the Innovation Award.

"When one of the designers took the hip belt apart and explained the details of the innovation that went into tiny bits of hardware that made up the RotoGlide hip belt, our jaws dropped."

Best In Show - Peak Design

My first introduction to Peak Design was purchasing one of their Capture Clips about four years ago. Since then they have slowly released small but thoughtfully designed camera accessories. The real game changer was last year's Everyday Messenger bag which raised $4.8M on Kickstarter, making it the most successful bag product ever. I reviewed that bag and what surprised me was how many pieces of clever design were assembled in one spot. If other companies have a killer feature that is the star of their bags, Peak Design bags are an all-star team.

Outdoor Retailer Carry Awards

This year, they launched four new bags (a backpack in two sizes, a tote, and sling) on Kickstarter and at the time of writing, the campaign is already at $2.6M. We had a chance to check out the products in detail and they are again marvels. Admittedly, they draw largely from their older brother (last year's Everyday Messenger), and everything that worked last year made it to this year's offerings - the MagLatch closure, custom hardware, Hypalon straps and loops, the innovative origami dividers, etc. They also added some great new features like a chest strap that stows away, clever ways of adding expandability without too much slack, and straps that appear when you need to carry a large item, but disappear without a trace when you don't.

"If other companies have a killer feature that is the star of their bags, Peak Design bags are an all-star team."

Outdoor Retailer Carry Awards

When you look at as many bags as we do, you know instantly when something is a quality product. And you know great, thought-out features when you see them. Peak Design's team, led by designer Art Viger and founder Peter Dering, are just killin' it with the new Everyday backpack, tote, and sling. They've loaded the bases, and when this campaign is over I'm sure it'll be a grand slam.

"...you know instantly when something is a quality product. And you know great, thought-out features when you see them."

Outdoor Retailer Carry Awards Peak Design

For giving us hope that innovation in carry can still exist and sometimes the smallest details make the biggest impact, we are happy to give Peak Design the Best in Show Award.

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